Expertise beyond level 50
Had an idea for character progression beyond the level cap of 50 without resorting to actually raising the level cap.
Expertise points gained as a level 50 character could be spent on further skill ranks I'll call Variable Ranks.
Variables? But I hate algebra
By "Variable" I mean that there would be a point sink mechanism by which players could reassign their Variable Rank pool whenever they wish. Actual point costs are beyond the scope of this suggestion, so I'll just refer to the respec cost as "Rc". So, we would have an avenue to spend our Experitse Points on furthering our characters training and, also, by spending an amount of Expertise equal to "Rc" a player could wipe the slate clean and respend their Variable Rank points.
Two notes for clarity . . .
(1) this would have ZERO integration with basic skill point training; whatever your character's base skill point build is remains unaffected in any form by Variable Rank training and respeccing. Variable Rank slots would be an independent slotting bar (unlocked at level 50) seperate from the basic skill rank slot bar. Also, there would be no basic skill level requirement to purchase Variable Ranks. When you hit level 50 the Variable Rank bar would unlock for all skills no matter what level their basic skill rank is.
(2) the value of "Rc" would be large.
How it do?
There would be 3 levels of Variable Ranks available for each skill (unlocked at level 50). Each Variable Rank would give, let's say, +15 further bonus per rank in the Variably trained skill. So, for example, a player that had trained Starship Weapons Training to 9 (+99 bonus) and Starship Weapons Training [Variable] to 3 (+45 bonus) would have a total bonus of +144 to ship weapon's damage.
As another example, a player who mainly plays an Escort or Cruiser that decided they wanted to test out a Science Vessel for a bit but put very few points in the Science & Operations skills could decide to train 3 Variable Ranks into Flow Caps or Subspace Decompiler giving a modest +45 bonus to subsystem targeting affects. Not great, but maybe enough to not feel completely gimp.
And yet another example; a player who likes to switch ship types every few weeks could "Rc" their Variable pool instead of fretting over Full Respec'ing their character repeatedly. They would never reach the level of specialization that someone who has respec'd their basic skills specifically to fly a certain ship would have, but they would have a mechanism to experiment and change up their game play from time to time.
Quick notes on balance concerns . . .
(1) At +15 bonus per skill rank and a max Variable Rank of 3, this would only be adding a bonus equal to 2.5 levels in a skill . . . rank 2 in skill gives a +36 bonus, rank 3 gives a +54 bonus . . . +45 falls precisely at the median point between rank 2 and 3 . . . (36 + 54) / 2 = 45
(2) like the "Rc" cost above, Variable Ranks would have very large point costs. This would just be your typical Alternate Advancement at Level Cap Grind Mechanism. A time / expertise point sink on the same order as Starbases . . . I'm thinking 6 to 12 months to gain 30 or so total Variable Ranks (it would take 135 ranks to be able to have 3 Variable Ranks in all available skills and factoring in "Rc" costs this would be a long term, big sink system).
Make the voices stop!
I normally roll my eyes at [Suggestion] threads and don't expect anything to come of this, but getting an idea stuck in your head and just wanting to get it out is one of the good things about forums.